Green Your Summer: Collect Rain Water

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be running a  short series on how you can save some money and live a bit greener this summer by taking some very simple steps.  I enjoy the warmth of the spring and summer time, and all of the delicious foods that it brings along with it.  The berries, summer squash, warm weather, longer days, more nighttime activities in the community (at least for me) and generally a great time for relaxation and fun.  Because there’s more time during the day, I figured I’d throw out a few tips to green up your summers.  This is the first entry in the series, you can find all the entries here.

Along with starting a garden collecting rain water can go a long way to help your fledgling garden get on its feet and save you some coin.   Back in the days of this blogs infancy, I had quite a few posts on how to save water (here and here).  These tips are great and include a lot of things that can help you save money, but I figured that I’d talk a bit more about something new: rain water.

Now, people in the pacific northwest may not even need to collect rain water, because of how much it rains there.  In Wyoming, that’s just plain not the case.  The western US is actually a high elevation desert, and most of the water we get comes in the form of snow.  So when the rare occasion that it does rain comes along, I make sure that I get the most out of it.  I do this because it’s free, and it otherwise would just go down into the sewer system or evaporate away sometime in the next 24 hours.

Most of the places I’ve lived, rain barrels have not really been legal – mostly because they can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and sometimes these parts get the worst cases of mosquitoes.  I’m talking wear long sleeves outside in the summer bad, mosquitoes as big as a penny bad.  Given the recent water shortages though, I think they are coming back into favor a bit – so check with your  city or county to see if you can put one up yourself.

I don’t have a rain barrel (not ready for that, yet) but from what I understand, they look fairly simple.  All you’d need to do is modify the gutter to drain into a barrel and you’re good to go.  Make sure that the barrel is elevated a bit so you can access it easier and get some pressure.  Unfortunately, I havent made one of these because the house I live in is just rented, and I have an aversion to moving something like that twice – not looking forward to it.

I do keep a bucket or 2 outside and when it rains, I use the contents of the bucket to water the flowers out in the backyard.  The rainwater makes for great water, and I don’t have to set up the sprinkler or jack with the hose when I do this – it’s such an easy process.  I can save some money on the water bill (which goes up quite a bit in the summer due to lack of rain) and I can help out the earth a bit by making sure that all the water that comes around me is put to some good use.

Keeping your rain water will save you a lot of money if you’ve got a lot of plants to water, or it could just help out your gardening.  Either way, why let the resource just run off your property?

Readers: Do you have a rain bucket, or some other way to catch rain water?  Do you like it?  Where do you use the water it captures?  If not, are you interested in having one?

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11 thoughts on “Green Your Summer: Collect Rain Water

  1. This is one of my “to-do’s” for when I do own a house. I don’t worry much about the mosquitoes where I live, but as long as you use the water quickly and don’t let it stagnate, I don’t think it would cause much of a problem. Great tip!

  2. We have 2 rain barrels that are connected to each other. They are up about 2 1/2 feet to make them easy to use. Husband installed a hose connection with 4 outlets. One outlet is used to get water and one is connected to a hose that runs inside the lanai for watering all we grow inside it – tomatoes, sugar snap peas, beets, chard, carrots, raspberries, peppers, spinach all in Earthboxes or containers.

    Otherwise, we catch rainwater in 5-gallon buckets or whatever other containers we have. We save the condensate from the AC when it is in use. We save all cooking water also. All water is used on gardens.

    Already we are in a moderate drought mode with water restrictions. It has been one of the driest winters in history. To say that water is expensive – $65 per month for 2 very water-use conscious people is an understatement. We could never afford to use the public water supply for our gardens.

  3. I was going to mention what Bellen did (making your own using a hose connection). As long as there’s an opening in the top, you can save yourself a lot of money buy just using a large bucket or clean plastic barrel. You can go to a garden or plumbing store to get the supplies you need to put the little hose connector down towards the bottom by yourself. 🙂

  4. Rain barrels are not that practical at our house, as our vegetable garden is upslope from the house. If this drought persists though, I might give them some serious consideration.

  5. My house never had gutters so I plan installing those on part of the house after I paint the trim, then I’m planning on putting together a rain barrel on one side. I’m keeping my eye out for a barrel, buying one of those pre-made ones at Home Depot is such a ripoff, you can easily install your own spout etc. I guess I should move this project to the higher priority ones for the summer, hmmm… so much to do!

  6. I catch rainwater in small buckets outside my apartment, not for money-saving purposes but instead because I’ve been told that my plants derive better health when they’re watered by rainwater rather than tap water. (Whether or not this is true, I don’t know, but I heard it several times, and I figure it’s just as easy to catch rainwater as it is to fill a watering can.)

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